Archive for the ‘ Devotions ’ Category

Samuel and Velvet Elvis

It would be much easier to just do one of these posts each week, but for whatever reason I tend to procrastinate about writing them…

Sunday, November 9th: 1st Samuel 1. I already read this back in September, but wanted to review it before continuing with the life of Samuel.

Wednesday, November 12th: 1st Samuel 2. The chapters consists of two contrasting passages, one being Hannah’s song of praise to God for blessing her with a son, and the other explaining why the sons of Eli, the high priest at the time, were so bad. As priests, the two sons were corrupt and disrespectful towards God and his rules for the temple, so God chooses to curse Eli’s family.

Thursday, November 13th: 1st Samuel 3. The famous story where God calls a boy Samuel (then working for Eli in the temple) for the first time. Samuel doesn’t realize it at first, thinking it is Eli who is calling, but once he realizes that it is in fact God speaking, God tells him about the curse on Eli’s family.

Saturday, November 15th: 1st Samuel 4 and 5. Israel goes to war with the Philistines with the Ark of the Covenant, lose, and the victors take the Ark as their own (it was common to take a symbol of the gods that a nation conquered, proving the superiority of the victor’s gods. Eli dies when he hears this news, but God is with the Ark, bringing disease and earthquakes to the cities that the Philistines try to keep the Ark.

Monday, November 17th: 1st Samuel 6 and 7. The Philistines return the Ark to Israel with gold figures as peace offerings. Samuel, in the meantime, has grown into his role as judge of Israel.

Thursday, November 20th: 1st Samuel 8. Despite Samuel’s warnings, Israel asks for a king, and God decides to give them one, giving Samuel instructions to find one.

Monday, November 24th: 1st Samuel 9. I was very tired though, so I didn’t get much out of it.

Tuesday, November 25th: Thanksgiving break! I stayed with some family friends, and didn’t have room in my bags to bring the Bible I normally use for devotions, so instead, I started Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, which challenges its readers to rethink their approach to the Christian faith, especially in respect to its concreteness. I read the prologue and Movement 1, entitled Jump. The chapter focuses on how Christianity must be flexible and open to questions and new interpretations, rather than being a set of immovable, indisputable facts about God and Jesus, and how we should follow Him.

Wednesday, November 26th: Velvet Elvis Movement 2: Yoke. The Bible was written by many writers with different interpretations, goals, methods, etc. and is supposed to make us ask questions, and those questions will probably give us even more to ask. It is supposed to make us think.

Thursday, November 27th (Thanksgiving): Velvet Elvis Movement 3: True. God is present in everything and in every situation, whether a high or a low point, but we should be careful about how we use the label “Christian.” Bell says that “Christian is a great noun and a poor adjective,” trying to draw attention to how ‘Christian’ things are not necessarily good.

Saturday, November 29th: Velvet Elvis Movement 4: Tassels. Bell uses his own story of the founding of Mars Hill, his former church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to explain how we can get trapped by the demands of life, even Christian life. He reminds us that, instead of trying to please everyone and achieve everything you think is good (being a “Super”-[insert role here]), you should be focusing on doing your best to live as Christ would have you live.

Sunday, November 30th: I re-read 1st Samuel 9, and it made a little more sense. Saul is selected by Samuel to be the first king of Israel, as according to God’s instructions.

Monday, December 1st: 1st Samuel 10. Samuel anoints Saul to be king, who then returns home to his father, but does not tell him of what happened. Samuel gathers the people of Israel to present Saul to them as King, but Saul actually hides during the announcement, possibly out of fear.

Wednesday, December 3rd: 1st Samuel 11. The Ammonites besiege a city of Israel, threatening to destroy it or otherwise disgrace Israel. Saul, enraged, threatens the enemy, and follows up his threat by destroying the forces of the Ammonites.

Thursday, December 4th: Prayers for the state of the country and peace.

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Normal Week?

Sunday: Nothing.

Monday: The Monday Night Live message was on John 9, where Jesus heals a blind man by making mud out of his spit, rubbing it on the eyes of the man, and telling him to wash in a certain pool. While the story is really funny (think about it) and shows a lot about what faith can do, the general public in the town is unhappy with the claims of the blind man and Jesus that he (Jesus) is indeed the Messiah, and threaten to stone him.

Tuesday: Nothing.

Wednesday: I couldn’t make it to all of Core Group meeting, but we had some good conversation about 1 John 4: 7-21. It’s pretty cool that God may be referred to and known simply as love (verse 8), and this makes it so the core of our lives in faith should also be about love towards anyone and everyone.

Thursday: Psalm 51. A confessional Psalm, this passage includes excellent imagery in honest confession and asking for forgiveness. “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Case me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (verses 10-12).

Friday: I don’t remember what I did Friday night, but I didn’t do a devotional time.

Saturday: Psalms 52 through 54. Psalm 52 contrasts the actions and fate of an evil and a righteous man. Psalm 53 discusses how those who refuse to follow God or deny Him despite knowing Him are lost, and will only find destruction. Psalm 54 is a simple prayer for God’s protection in a dangerous time.

This week I’m going to start going through the life of Samuel, one of the key prophets in the history of Old Testament Israel.

One Month Later…

This blog wasn’t the only thing that I’ve not kept up with recently. So…

Sunday, October 5th: I didn’t get up in time to go to church, so I spent some longer devotional time in the morning instead, listening to praise music and reading Psalm 50 in addition to Isaiah 61 and 62. In Psalm 50, God reminds his followers that He does not need sacrifices and other forms of devotion, and warns the wicked about assuming that they are following Him, when in fact they are doing the opposite. Isaiah 60 and 61 both praise the Israelites for their faith and tell of how their neighbors, friend and enemy alike, will respect and help them.

Monday, October 6th: Isaiah 63. God takes vengeance upon his enemies, but is merciful to those who follow him, even after returning to him from a time of rebellion.

Wednesday, October 8th: Isaiah 64. This chapter is a call of the Israelites to see and be saved by God’s power, as they have been suffering in their sin.

Wednesday, October 15th: Isaiah 65. God will provide all His followers need and end their unhappiness.

At some point since then, I finished Isaiah with chapter 66, which follow much of the previous chapters in the vein of “God, in his glory, will bless Israel and His followers, but will judge His enemies.”

 

Another Two-Week Post

Definitely wasn’t 100%, but it’s getting better. Dates are approximate…

Monday, September 22nd: The night’s Chi Alpha message was on John 4, verses 1 through 45, where Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman who had previously had 5 husbands and had been a part of several practices that made her “less than ideal” for any random Jewish man to talk to, but offers her salvation nonetheless, reaching to the entire town through the woman.

Tuesday, September 23rd: Isaiah 57. Israel has become home to many non-believers and idolaters, but those who remain true to him and “prepare the way” for Jesus will have peace and be healed. Verse 21 makes the very simple but powerful statement that “There is not peace for the wicked.”

Wednesday, September 24th: Isaiah 58. Fasting, observing the Sabbath, and other forms of asceticism are only good and holy if done humbly in service of God, rather than trying to show others how “good and holy” you are.

Saturday, September 27th: Isaiah 59. Though God is all-powerful and his “hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear” Israel (and man in general) is broken, sinful, and far from God, who will judge all people for their transgression.

Monday, September 29th: Prayer. For whatever reason Chi Alpha was not what I needed spiritually, so I left after worship, spending my time walking back in prayer and thought.

Wednesday, October 1st: I got to go to Core Group! One of the frustrating things about Chi Alpha so far this year is that, for the time being, my Core Group is meeting on Wednesday nights, so I’ll be missing it almost every single week (the fact that large group met on Mondays is the main reason why I chose Chi Alpha over the other Christian fellowships on grounds… because it didn’t conflict with orchestra or marching band rehearsals). This week we didn’t have orchestra though, so I got to go. We studied 1st John chapter 2, which

Friday, October 3rd: Isaiah 60. Israel will be blessed with wealth, peace, and the cooperation of its neighbors in its salvation by God.

Late Nights, Few Devotions

When I stay up late doing work or otherwise, I don’t normally spend my normal devotional time, so this past busy week was pretty sparse as far as they go. Better than my summer, but still not great.

Sunday through Tuesday: Prayer throughout the day, but no time spent reading.

Wednesday: Isaiah 54. Even though God seemed to be distant from Israel for a time, He will bless them in coming years with safety and wealth.

Thursday: Isaiah 56. All those who follow God and His commands belong to His people will be saved, regardless of their background. The groups specifically addressed in this chapter are the eunuchs and “foreigners,” or non-Israelites.

Friday and Saturday: Nothing.

Resolutions

Nearly a month has passed in the new school year, and while it has been a good semester all together, so far, there are several things that I haven’t quite gotten under control about being back in school, especially my body clock and sleep. So I’m making a few “new year’s” resolutions for this school year. Here we go:

  • I resolve to, so long as I am not actively doing work on it, shut my computer down for the night by 11:00 PM on weeknights.
  • I resolve to, on weeknights, be ready for bed (showered, teeth brushed, etc.) by midnight, enabling me to have a designated devotional time immediately before bed.
  • I resolve to go to bed by 12:30 AM or earlier every weeknight.
  • I resolve to leave my computer closed unless I am actively working or playing on it.
  • I resolve to write at least 2 short blog posts and 1 long post each week (not counting I’ve Been Listening to… posts.

That may seem like quite a bit, but the first three are all closely related, and should help me significantly with increasing the amount of sleep I’ve been getting each night, one of the biggest problems I think I’ve had so far.

Getting Back Into It

As school begins to settle into a normal rhythm, I’ve been able to restart the habit of spending a devotional time before I go to bed, which I haven’t been doing in over a month. (I just noticed how many Daily Devotion posts I title “Getting Back___.” Oops.)  This, along with a couple of other things, was something that I was not happy with my doing (or not doing) at the beginning of the year, and wanted to get better at it (new year’s resolution, or something like that).

Monday, September 1st: Not this week, but the first day of Chi Alpha Monday Night Live. We started a series about six miracles, or “signs,’ as it likes to refer to them as, from the gospel of John that Christ performed to really show who he was. To kick off the series, however, we focused on Jesus’ calling of his first disciples in John 1. My favorite points from the night were that following Jesus requires two things: courage and a group of friends who are doing the same thing. While it isn’t always easy, we are promised that this decision will result in two other things: a change in who we are and visible examples of God’s glory.

Monday (September 8th): In our second Chi Alpha large group meeting, we examined the first of Jesus’ signs: the changing of water into wine, from John 2: 1-11, with some important historical context. While changing water into wine may seem like a relatively insignificant party trick (it’s funny because it was at a wedding feast…), especially compared to healing the sick or handicapped and raising the dead, Jesus actually saved the groom from a lifetime of being considered a cheapskate or even a thief. At the time, weddings were a huge deal, with several days of partying and as many guests as possible (richer individuals often invited their entire towns), and if the groom, who provided the supplies for said party, ran out of supplies, there would be a good reason for his guests to be upset with him.

Tuesday: I couldn’t remember where I was in Isaiah, and had been thinking about Joshua and Jericho earlier that night, so I read Joshua 2 and 6, the story of Israel’s conquest of the heavily fortified city. I especially focused on the involvement of Rahab, who is described as a prostitute, but aids Israel’s spies, is saved for her faith while the rest of the city is laid to waste, and becomes an ancestor of Jesus himself.

Wednesday: 1st Samuel 1. Another random choice, I decided to read the story of Hannah and the birth of Samuel, a key prophet in the history of Israel. The story is an excellent example of the power faith and God’s faithfulness. After I finish Isaiah, I think I may read through 1st and 2nd Samuel and into 1st and 2nd Kings, following the life of Samuel.

Thursday: Isaiah 55. God will provide good things to those who follow Him (seems to be a theme…). I accidentally skipped Isaiah 54, so I will need to go back and cover that.

Saturday: Prayer.